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Monica Gadsby was fresh out of college in 1987 when she joined Chicago-based advertising giant Leo Burnett as a media assistant on the Procter & Gamble account. One of her first assignments seemed simple enough: gather marketing research on Hispanic consumers. What Gadsby soon discovered, however, was that few companies collected reliable data on this group. At the time, research on Hispanics focused almost entirely on door-to-door interviews in high-density Latino neighborhoods, she recalls. “There just wasn't much Hispanic research,� says Gadsby, who is now joint managing director and chief investment officer of Chicago-based Tapestry, the multicultural media specialty division of Starcom MediaVest Group.

Times have certainly changed. Today, media and marketing research firms that gather statistics on the Hispanic TV and radio audiences are increasingly aware of the dearth of solid information about this fast-growing, influential market. This awareness stems in part from Census 2000, which revealed the remarkable growth of this ethnic group. As a result, several firms such as Arbitron and Nielsen Media Research, both based in New York, are working to improve the way they collect data on Hispanics, to better reflect the media consumption habits of this population. Such changes will enable research to more accurately reflect the true size of the Hispanic audience, which marketers say is a key step — albeit a small one — in the right direction.

What marketers still want is more detailed information on Spanish language dominance, biculturalism, psychosocial motivators as well as the kind of fine-tuned studies available on the mainstream market and the African American population. “Multicultural marketing is benefiting from a growing number of clients who are thinking twice about Hispanics, even in a soft market where people are looking to trim dollars,� says Gadsby. “But in media research, we've still got a long way to go to play catch-up.�

This need to play catch-up becomes strikingly clear when comparing Hispanic ad buys with the general market space. According to projections from Hispanic Business, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based information services company, spending on Hispanic advertising will rise 4 percent this year, while spending on general market advertising is expected to remain level. That may sound like good news, but Hispanic advertising is still fairly anemic compared with general market buys, since it is derived from a very small base. According to Hispanic Business, the total ad budget for Hispanics in the United States was $2.2 billion last year, compared with the mainstream market spending figure of $233.7 billion, forecast by Robert Coen, an analyst at Universal McCann in New York.

Hispanic advertising figures are likely to become more robust, thanks to Census 2000, which revealed the extraordinary scope of the Hispanic market. Fueled by immigration and high birth rates, the share of Hispanics in the U.S. is about 13 percent, or nearly 35 million people, rivaling African Americans for the title of “largest minority group� in the nation.

Within this huge population is advertising's most attractive market: younger (by about 10 years), larger (with one more person per household) and more traditional (featuring a greater percentage of conventional nuclear families) than the general market, according to the census results. And better yet, reports Miami-based Strategy Research Corporation, a marketing research firm that specializes in U.S. Hispanic markets, Hispanic buying power in 2002 has reached $428 billion, up from $342 billion in 2000 — a 25 percent increase in two years.

“With the big wake up call of Census 2000, everyone is starting to reevaluate what's happening with Hispanics and research now will hopefully fill in some gaps,� says Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research for New York media firm Horizon Media.

Certainly, the results of the decennial census have given Hispanics numerical notoriety, which in the by-the-numbers game of measuring TV viewers translates to fatter rating points for Spanish-language broadcasting. And of course, fatter ratings mean advertisers will have to pay more for commercials. Based on census findings, Nielsen Media Research increased the number of Hispanic households in a single rating point by about 14 percent last September. That raises the number of Hispanic households in one rating point from 8.94 million Hispanic households, to 10.2 million Hispanic households. Although many marketing executives feel this is an important change, some believe it's also time to simplify calculations for Hispanic viewership by combining two Nielsen services.

Currently, Hispanic viewers are included in both the National Hispanic Television Index (NHTI) and the National People Meter service (also known as the National Television Index or NTI), sister services offered by Nielsen. The NHTI provides a comprehensive measurement of Hispanic television viewing and Spanish-language television in the U.S. The NHTI uses the People Meter — the same measurement tool used to report total U.S. audience behavior — with a separate sample of Hispanic households.

The problem that some advertising execs have with the Nielsen method is that the Hispanic viewing numbers from these two national indexes don't match. While the NHTI samples about 800 homes, Nielsen has about 600 Hispanic homes in its National People Meter sample. This means that media buyers must go back and forth between both guides — and they must subscribe to both services, says media watchdog Jack Myers, CEO and chief economist for The Myers Report.

Les Margulis, vice president and director of communications at The Vidal Partnership, a Hispanic marketing communications agency in New York, says that Nielsen “just hasn't kept up with the growth of Hispanics or the Hispanic broadcast market.� However, Doug Darfield, senior vice president of Hispanic services for Nielsen, says when the Hispanic index started 10 years ago, it made sense because the ethnic group was a smaller percentage of the total U.S. population. “I think it's more of an issue now than when we started,� he says, adding that the service is a boon for Spanish-language networks whose numbers wouldn't be readable in the NTI's smaller sample of Hispanic households.

In the radio marketplace, Arbitron has already improved some of its methodologies to better reflect the Hispanic market. These efforts include increasing the Hispanic population estimates for the annual population survey, and improving methods for tracking race/ethnicity and language preference in its radio surveys. Each year, Ithaca, N.Y.-based Market Statistics updates the population estimates for Arbitron that are projected through January of the next year. When producing the annual revision, Market Statistics starts with the most recent census stats and uses a variety of local, state and federal data to complete the estimates. The January 2001 population estimates from Market Statistics projections were based on the 1990 census. The fall 2001 survey used January 2002 population estimates based on both Census 2000 and the 1990 reports. The remaining surveys, through summer 2002, use January 2002 population estimates based only on Census 2000.

Already, Hispanic radio stations in some markets can see a bump in ratings in the winter 2002 survey as a result of Arbitron's population update. The total Hispanic population, age 12 and older, was up 10 percent in the 68 Arbitron Hispanic markets, compared with the general population, which was up 3.5 percent. The African American population in Arbitron's 128 black markets was up 8.8 percent. The company now uses these new estimates in the 285 radio markets that it measures.

Another way that Arbitron hopes to get information from a broader sample of the Hispanic radio audience is by posing a language preference question in the Hispanic markets at an earlier point in its survey process. In January, this question was asked during the initial placement interview for the first time, instead of after the individual agrees to keep a radio diary, as is usually the case. This change will enable Arbitron to get information about Hispanics, whether or not they participate in the diaries. As a result, the research firm will have a broader base of Hispanic households to examine in its survey.

For Gloria Constanza, senior vice president and director of media services for New York advertising agency The Bravo Group, this change will be particularly helpful, since she believes language preference data is “sorely lacking.� But at the top of her wish list is a national radio network rating survey for Hispanics. “That's the priority,� says Constanza. “Clients are getting interested, really interested in radio, and a national survey is desperately needed. If we get one, that's when you'll see me smiling.�

With some changes already made, more on the way, and with the ever-morphing process of research in general, most marketers are convinced that methodologies and resultant data will better reflect the explosive growth of the Hispanic market. Until they do, however, Hispanic marketing will be somewhat akin to blindly “throwing a hand grenade,� says Michael Kubin, co-CEO of Evalient Media Resources, Inc., a New York media tracking firm. “You toss enough out there and you're going to make some hits,� he says. Kubin and others are waiting for the day marketers will have the information they need so they can “begin to target Hispanics with darts.� And maybe then they'll be able to hit a bull's-eye.


Between 1993 and 2002, the number of Hispanic TV households increased a dramatic 63.2 percent, while the total number of U.S. TV households increased by only 13.3 percent.


Hispanic consumers think very positively about companies that advertise in Spanish:

53 percent say they remember more about or pay more attention to products and brands that are advertised in Spanish.

45 percent say they are much more loyal toward companies that show appreciation for their culture by advertising in Spanish.

46 percent feel that companies respect their heritage and really want their business when the company advertises its products in Spanish.

32 percent relate that Spanish language advertising is important to them because it is the best source of information for making purchasing decisions.

Source: Simmons Market Research Bureau 2001 Hispanic Study, a survey of 10,013 Hispanics


Percent and number of Hispanics, age 18 and older, who read the following Spanish and English language publications:

Magazines 62% (8,091,000)
Sunday newspaper 21.3% (2,705,000)
Daily newspaper 20.2% (2,352,000)
Weekly newspaper 5.6% (987,000)
Source: Simmons Market Research Bureau, 2001 Hispanic Study


The popularity of Spanish-formatted radio stations peaks among 25- to 34-year-olds, who represent 27.7 percent of the Hispanic audience for this format.



One of the few bright spots in the otherwise dismal network ad marketplace has been the performance of late night TV talk shows — especially CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. While total network ad sales had fallen 11.4 percent through the first 10 months of 2001, the late night portion was up 6.8 percent, to $454.3 million, according to Media Buyer's Daily analysis of data from Nielsen Monitor Plus. The ad market for most late night entertainment shows has grown, and Letterman's 13.6 percent increase has certainly helped rally the market. In fact, Letterman's ad demand is so strong that the show has gained two percentage points of the half-billion late night market share since the first 10 months of 2000. But not all late night talk shows are showing an increase. NBC's Later is trailing far behind, with a 23 percent drop in ad sales in 2001. Now that's no laughing matter.

2001 Ad$ $149.4 million $37.6 million $197,1 million $65.2 million $5.0 million
vs. 2000 13.6% 3.3% 4.5% 3.7% -23.0%
Source: MBD analysis of data from Nielsen Monitor Plus, January-October 2001 vs. January-October 2000. Excludes Saturday Night Live and Friday Night on NBC.


Every medium that increased costs in 2001 saw its stable of advertisers decrease — with the exception of Hispanic network television. Not surprisingly, every medium that lowered costs saw a surge in advertisers, except national newspapers.


The predictions for 2002 ad spending are as varied as the advertisers themselves. Offering a positive estimate is investment banker Veronis Suhler, which predicts ad spending will rise 6.9 percent this year. At the pessimistic end of the spectrum is consultant Jack Myers, who forecasts a 5.7 percent decrease. Between these two extremes is media spending tracker CMR, whose forecast postdates the other prognosticators. CMR estimates 1.5 percent growth in 2002, a figure that was derived from its year-to-year tracking of 2001 ad spending, as well was economic forecasts for 2002.

Veronis Suhler 6.9% Aug. 6, 2001
Universal McCann 2.4% Dec. 2, 2001
CMR 1.5% Jan. 22, 2002
Zenith OptiMedia -1.3% Dec. 2, 2001
Jack Myers Report -5.7% Dec. 10, 2001
Source: Company reports

Media Buyer's Daily is a sister publication of American Demographics. MBD covers the supply and demand sides of the advertising marketplace. It targets advertisers, planners, buyers and sellers of media time and space. For subscriptions, call (212) 204-3910.

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